In light of Tony Sparano's comments this afternoon that indicated rookie guard John Jerry has not earned anything yet and is basically just getting looks against the starting defense, it's hard to get a grasp on how the starting lineup would look if the first game was tomorrow.
Considering guys like Cameron Wake, Koa Misi, and Jared Odrick could also be on tryout's with the first-team, it becomes even more difficult to decipher which players are winning the numerous position battles. That is why I plan on putting together this weekly feature that projects the leaders at each notable position battle. Obviously, I'm not apart of the coaching staff, so I really have no idea how accurate this will be, but when you factor in how each player is reportedly performing and what reps each guy is getting, the picture gets a little clearer.
To clarify, this is not, by any means, a prediction of who I see winning these battles, just my opinion on who I feel would start if the season started today.
LG: Donald Thomas over Cory Procter- The first couple practices Procter spent as the starter were probably just the coaching staff getting the best possible look at a fairly new addition. Thomas, meanwhile, is known for being one of the strongest players on the team, and has proven to be solid as a run blocker, even though his pass protection could use some work.
C: Jake Grove over Joe Berger- Like I have said before, the only reason this is a competition at all is because Berger is capable of being a quality starter and is a far cheaper option than Grove. But Grove was one of the better centers in the game a year ago, and his addition last season instantly enabled the Dolphins the ability to run the ball between the tackles.
RG: Richie Incognito over John Jerry- We haven't really heard any reports evaluating Jerry's performance, so it's hard to judge his status solely on Sparano's comments. Incognito on the other hand, is the only guard that is thought to be in the mix not to get any action with the first-team. Despite his sometimes costly temper, though, he may have the most potential of any of these guys. My hunch is, the coaching staff already kind of has a feel for what he can bring to the table, and are just trying to develop the same with the other candidates.
WR 2: Brian Hartline over Greg Camarillo and Davone Bess- I really don't think this is much of a competition anymore. Hartline has started every practice opposite Marshall so far, and his big-play potential gives him the edge over the other solid, but slower options. I still expect to see plenty of action from Camarillo on the rotation, and, of course, Bess is going to get his share of looks in the slot.
RE: Jared Odrick over Marques Douglas- Odrick is probably the most ready to start of any of the rookies. Sure, Marques Douglas is some tough competition, but the Dolphins likely want to throw Odrick in the fire, in the same way they did the rookie corners last year. According to reports, Odrick has been pretty solid so far too.
WLB: Cameron Wake over Charlie Anderson- Anderson may be more capable against the run and in coverage, but the explosion Wake brings to the pass rush is arguably worth the drop off in those two areas. Maybe the Dolphins are just getting a look at Wake against the starting defense, but how can you designate a guy who reportedly beat Jake Long on three straight plays to just a nickel and dime role?
SLB: Koa Misi over Ikaika Alama Francis- Ike has been the most surprising story of camp, switching from defensive end to outside linebacker, but this process is still in the experimental stages. The move appears to be permanent, but the only reason Ike received first-team reps on Saturday was to see how well he would perform against the team's best defensive players. Misi, meanwhile, has drawn mixed reviews, but has been with the starters for all but one practice. Of course, they could always move Anderson over to the strong side, and still may, but Misi's ceiling is superior.
CB: Sean Smith over Will Allen- Don't get my wrong, I love Will Allen, and I am thrilled he reportedly has made a successful recovery from the knee injury he suffered last season, but it's going to take more than a couple rough practices for me to give up on Smith.The second-year corner out of Utah has elite size for a corner, and despite not registering a pick a year ago, he flashed some potential to be a future shutdown corner.
FS: Chris Clemons over Reshad Jones-Well, Jones reportedly picked off his first pass of camp and has made some mental progress according to Sparano, but Clemons' leadership has been on full disply so far and he has yet to concede any notable burns in coverage.
Remember, it's still ridiculously early. There's still plenty of time for things to change, and for guys to make up ground.